Love scenes are an important part of the emotional journey for characters. Whether you’re writing a romance novel, a novel that contains romance, or telling the story of almost any adult—sex is often a part of their arc. Still, these scenes can feel awkward, especially if you’re writing your book with the idea of being published. Many adults still wonder what mom or dad will think of the explicit parts. Read on for my best tips on how to embrace love scenes and work them into your writing.
Just like your hero and heroine eventually hope to do: commit yourself. If you’re going to write a love scene, write it. Block out the discomfort if you feel it, and write it imagining no one else will read it. Let yourself write what is best for your characters and the mood of the book. Listen, we’re all adults here, and honestly, many of us enjoy reading the “juicy parts,” so give it to us! How people are in intimate moments reflects a lot about their character, upbringing, worldview, etc. It’s an opportunity for characterization, and you shouldn’t shy away from exploring this part of your character’s life if it’s right for you and the story.
Sure, many romance readers come for the hot parts and stay for the emotion, but that doesn’t mean you have to write anything explicit. Some genres within romance are quite chaste—and the readers expect it. Other ones are as imaginative as you can be. Romance is quite broad in this regard, so write what works for you.
If you’re not writing genre romance but want or need to include love scenes, the same rules apply—there are no rules. Write what jives with your characters, your book, and yourself. If you’d rather use euphemisms—go for it. If you want to be anatomically correct—do it. Whatever you choose, be yourself. If you go with your style and comfort level, it will flow—and show!
Don’t Forget Emotion
Love scenes are about more than anatomical sex acts to everybody. Even if someone has one night stand after one night stand, something is going on there mentally. Why does this person not want to—or avoid—connecting with the people he/she is intimate with? That’s emotion too. Getting physical changes a relationship for good or bad. It draws people together. It reveals why they wouldn’t make a successful couple. People are in a vulnerable position—or maybe the script is flipped, and it puts them in the power position instead. The point is: the love scenes should be about more than titillating your characters or readers (though that’s fine too!); it should also involve emotion. This situation means something—what?
As always, the best way to tackle any writing challenge is to look for examples. What heat level do you like in books? What feels like too much? Too little? What is revealed during these moments for characters? Reading more is the answer for most writing questions, so let your favorite novels and writers show you the way.